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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

How to Become an Entrepreneur (A Serial Entrepreneur’s Advice)

The dream of entrepreneurship is one many share. It’s all about being your own boss, having financial security, and creating something from nothing through hard work, dedication, and skill. It’s the rare person who hasn’t pondered how to become an entrepreneur.

I certainly did, and from a young age. I come from a long line of entrepreneurial people: my great grandfather was a cattle trader and wildcatter. My grandfather and father were in the oil and gas industry, and I have been involved in everything from oil and gas to manufacturing, real estate, and skin care. In short, I have been a serial entrepreneur for the past 35 years.

On the path to learning how to become an entrepreneur, I have both made and lost millions of dollars, managed hundreds of employees, and suffered from anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, and other health issues.

I have learned lessons from some of the greatest minds in the business world, as well as from my own spectacular failures. But one thing I have never done is quit, and that is lesson one on how to become an entrepreneur and be successful while doing it.

What People Get Wrong About Entrepreneurship

When I talk to people about entrepreneurship and how to become an entrepreneur, there are some common misconceptions that always arise.

They are almost always based on stereotypes that have seeped into the culture over time. We see them in movies, television, and even from entrepreneurs themselves. But like all stereotypes, they are overgeneralizations that don’t allow us to see the true, in-depth picture of the entrepreneur. So, here are the most common myths I hear about entrepreneurs.

There Are “Born” Entrepreneurs

It’s true that if you come from a long line of entrepreneurs (as I did), you are more likely to become one, but it’s not genetically inherited. It’s much more a function of having entrepreneurs as role models in your life. After all, colleges and universities have been teaching all kinds of people business skills and entrepreneurship for decades.

Now, that’s not to say that there are no “born into” advantages that can help with entrepreneurship. Money is a great example of this. If you were lucky enough to be born into a family with money, it will make entrepreneurship a much easier proposition. After all, funding is a major part of any start-up.

That being said, most entrepreneurs were not born into money and still became successful. More on how to do that later.

Entrepreneurs Don’t Have a Social Life

This one is pretty common and sometimes perpetuated by the entrepreneurs themselves. There can be a kind of a machismo attached to the image of a workaholic: someone who is single-minded and entirely focused to the exclusion of other things.

While entrepreneurship does take a lot of time, effort, and dedication, entrepreneurs, by necessity, need to be social creatures. No one rises to the top without a wide network of friends and acquaintances.

They Are Extreme Risk-Takers

There’s no getting around taking risks as an entrepreneur. However, successful entrepreneurs are experts at taking calculated risks — carefully exploring all the options as well as the potential ups and downs before making a decision.

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The person who is willing to risk it all on a roll of the dice isn’t going to be in business very long.

They Are Super Smart

In fact, only about 26% of entrepreneurs have a college degree[1]. While getting or having an education can’t (or shouldn’t) hurt, it is by no means a prerequisite for becoming a successful entrepreneur.

They Raise Money Through Bank Loans and Venture Capital Firms

My hat’s off to you if you can pull that one off, especially a bank loan. You’ll find that banks are more than willing to lend you money once you’ve become successful, but before then, you’re lucky to get a cup of coffee out of them[2].

No, most new entrepreneurs are raising funds either personally or through friends and family[3].

How to Fund Your Startup as an Entrepreneur

    Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur

    All you need is a great idea and some hard work. After all, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.

    Sorry, but that’s just not true.

    There is a lot involved in launching a successful startup. Not everyone has the time, ability, or inclination to do it. The truth is, successful entrepreneurs do share some similar traits and habits. We’ll go over those next.

    6 Traits of a Successful Entrepreneur

    How much is a great new idea worth? Well, that depends. If you’re Steve Jobs, it’s worth billions of dollars. If you’re Steve Jones, whose content working a nine to five day job for 30 years, then it’s worth nothing.

    The truth is that there are great ideas all around us all the time, but it’s the entrepreneur that gives the idea value.

    So how do you know if you have what it takes to learn how to become an entrepreneur? Here is a list of some common traits of successful entrepreneurs.

    1. Passion

    We hear this one a lot, but what does it really mean?

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    For the entrepreneurs, passion is an overabundance of enthusiasm for their work. We’re not talking about a passion for making money or getting rich. That should be a byproduct of passion.

    The kind of passion we’re talking about is a complete belief in how the business, product, or service adds value to the consumer. People with this kind of passion are willing to do whatever it takes to see that vision through.

    2. Tenacity

    Rarely do human endeavors go exactly as planned. This is especially true in a start-up situation. No matter how good you are or how many times you’ve done it, things are going to come out of left field and smack you upside the head.

    Now, I’m not going to tell you that it’s fun when something unexpected comes out of nowhere and turns your world upside down, but I will say that if you have the tenacity to work through the problem, it will serve as a lesson in resourcefulness for both you and your team.

    3. Flexibility

    I’m putting this one right after tenacity because sometimes solutions aren’t a matter of pushing through a problem but going around it.

    Back in the 1930s, having wallpaper was the “in” thing. The problem was that it literally was paper. When it got dirty, cleaning it with water and other household products quickly soaked and degraded the paper. The solution was to use a clay like substance to clean the wallpaper without getting it wet.

    Then, in the 1950s, preschool children in Cincinnati started using this same clay to make Christmas decorations. Pretty soon, it was repackaged into Play-Doh[4].

    The most successful entrepreneurs are flexible enough to change direction when they need to.

    4. Confidence

    As a startup entrepreneur, it’s extremely important that you exude confidence in your business, product/service, and especially in your own abilities. After all, you need to be inspiring to investors, employees, and customers if you’re going to learn how to become an entrepreneur.

    Arrogance, on the other hand, can be just as detrimental to your business as a lack of confidence. For investors, arrogance is a warning sign that you won’t listen to their input or advice. For employees, it can set up a rigid, autocratic management style that stifles creativity. And for customers, it can signal a lack of appreciation for their business.

    In short, confidence is a must, and arrogance is a no-no.

    5. Being a Motivated Self-Starter

    I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who wasn’t a highly motivated self-starter. Part of that comes from the passion they have for their business. They really enjoy what they do and can’t wait for Monday to roll around so that they can start again.

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    Another part of that is discipline. They tend to approach everything in life with discipline. Work is the obvious example, but even leisure activities are an exercise in discipline.

    For example, they promised their spouse that they would get some yard work done, but their kid has a game. Their answer is not to skip either one; it’s to schedule both activities into the day.

    6. Being a Calculated Risk Taker

    We talked a little bit about this earlier, and the word “calculated” is very important here. We’ve all heard the saying that “With great risk comes great reward.” But too many people confuse “great risk” with “foolish risk.”

    A straightforward way to think about this is buying 100,000 lottery tickets. It certainly fits the criteria of a great reward coming from a great risk. But is it a smart (calculated) risk? If you’re intelligent enough to be reading this article, you know the answer.

    So, here’s how an entrepreneur thinks about this situation. Instead of spending money on 100,000 lottery tickets, how about taking that money, use 50% as a down payment on a property that needs a little fix-up; and use the other half to fix it up and then sell it for a $50,000 profit? Now that is a calculated risk.

    8 Practical Steps on How to Become an Entrepreneur

    When counseling people on how to become an entrepreneur, I encourage them to take an honest assessment of themselves. This is always much harder than people think.

    As humans, we are notoriously bad at self-assessment. We tend to overestimate our skills and abilities. That’s why almost everyone thinks that they are an above average driver[5].

    Even so, if you are considering life as an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s important to be as honest as possible when doing these self-assessments. Once you have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses, you can use these tips to build your business.

    1. Develop Your Idea

    It doesn’t have to be a totally unique or groundbreaking business idea in order to be a successful one. The popular rideshare company Lyft was started three years after the introduction of Uber. They took on the business model of Uber and just tweaked it a little.

    Just because there is competition in a field doesn’t mean that you can’t be very successful when you start a business, too.

    Go ahead and use the business model of the most successful competitor, but make it your own by identifying shortcomings and weaknesses that you can exploit for your own success.

    2. Research, Research, Research

    Research the industry and get to know the players, trade associations, and conventions. Research the products and services involved. It’s not uncommon that the most profitable part of a business isn’t the “main” product, but an ancillary add-on product.

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    For example, it’s not uncommon for a restaurant to break even on the food and only make money on the drinks. The reason they can offer a plate full of food for $5.00 is really the $2.00 Coke or $5.00 glass of wine you order with it.

    Finally, research the customer. Things like average age, sex, buying habits, interests, attitudes about health, wealth, social media, and status are all helpful in your targeting and marketing efforts.

    3. Create a Formal Business Plan

    This step is often overlooked and shouldn’t be. As a one or two-person show, you can probably get along fine without one, but once you start hiring employees, having a formal business plan is essential[6].

    Elements of a Business Plan

      Unfortunately, if you don’t put it in place right away, by the time you need it, you’ll be too busy to create one. It’s always smart to do it up front.

      4. Build Your Network

      No one can build a successful business on their own. You’ll need investors, attorneys, accountants, bankers, as well as vendors, industry contacts, employees, and a whole host of others.

      Start attending trade shows and conventions, as well as joining trade association and online groups. These are all great networking resources for you.

      5. Test Your Ideas

      Start small, as there’s no way you can predict every possible problem or issue that will arise. You’ll find it’s much easier to address these issues if they’re limited to a few test markets as opposed to a global rollout.

      6. Turn Early Customers Into Fans

      Another advantage of starting out on a small scale while learning how to become an entrepreneur is that you can develop more personal relationships with customers. Make sure to provide a great experience for these first customers to build up the most effective advertising there is — word of mouth.

      7. Raise Capital

      At this point, you should have a proven business model with customers, cash flow, and a plan for expansion. You can now start to raise money through investors, venture capitalists, and banks.

      8. Scale Your Business

      Take the money raised and use it to scale the business for maximum returns for you, your employees, investors, and early backers.

      Final Thoughts

      In my opinion, there has never been a better time in our history to learn how to become an entrepreneur. The old barriers to entry — access to large amounts of capital, expensive professional services like legal and accounting, and staffing issues — can all be overcome thanks to the internet. There are people all over offering these services as freelancers and at discounted rates, making it the perfect time to start to grow your business.If you truly have a good idea that you are committed to, then really the only thing stopping you from joining the ranks of entrepreneurs is you.

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      More on How to Become an Entrepreneur

      Featured photo credit: Humphrey Muleba via unsplash.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      David Carpenter

      Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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      Last Updated on May 23, 2021

      10 Best Free Job Apps You Need For Effective Job Hunting

      10 Best Free Job Apps You Need For Effective Job Hunting

      Seeking for the right job but not sure how to do it in a more effective way?

      Try job search apps!

      To make the job hunting process easier, I’m recommending 10 best job apps that can help you look for the right match anywhere at any time. The best of all? They’re all free!

      1. jobandtalent

      jobandtalent

        Great for browsing new jobs as you commute home via subway, bus or carpool, the jobandtalent app is like a Pinterest for job seekers.

        Easily browse, save and revisit job postings from your smartphone and receive notifications about jobs that match your professional qualifications.

        Download it for iOS and Android.

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        2. Jobr

        jobr

          This job hunting app is unique in that it lets you anonymously browse job listings based on your professional resume. If a company that you like also shows an interest in you, the app let’s you chat directly with a company rep. Great for getting your foot in the door and making a memorable impression.

          Download it for iOS.

          3. Monster Job Search

          monster job search

            I’m a big fan of Monster. It’s one of the first job sites employers think of when they want to list a new position online. The Monster Job Search app functions pretty similarly to the normal website, so it’s very easy to use for not-so-tech-savvy job hunters.

            Download it for iOS and Android.

            4. Jobs and Career Search

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            job and career search

              This is a good, simple app for browsing global locations for your next job. With a job index of more than 50,000 jobs listed globally, this app is a good choice if you are moving to a new area and want to line a new job up quickly.

              Download it for iOS.

              5. Hyper Networking Groups

              hyper networking groups

                This job hunting app isn’t so much a job hunting app as it is a connections hunting app. It’s great for learning who’s who in your desired field and forming connections. It also shows you how you and your industry connections are connected via your social networks, so you can follow up with them on your other social sites.

                Download it for iOS.

                6. CardDrop

                CardDrop

                  CardDrop is an awesome job hunting app that let’s you digitally drop and pick up virtual business cards. This app is great for helping you make new connections at seminars, interviews, meetings and conferences. You can also attach social media profiles to the cards you pick up or send to enable easier connecting on social networks.

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                  Download it for Android and iOS.

                  7. Job Interview Questions

                  interview questions both

                    Okay, so this app looks kind of outdated, but it’s super useful for getting you into the swing of answering any kind of interview question that is thrown your way. The big benefit of using this app is that it explains to you what your interviewers motivations might be for asking you a specific kind of question. Learn what your interviewer is looking for in your answers and be more prepared for the real interview when the time comes.

                    Download it for Android.

                    8. 101 Interview Questions and Answers

                    101 both

                      This app is great because it provides guidance about the kinds of answers you should give for each kind of question. Think of it as an essay rubric but for job interview questions.

                      Download it for Android.

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                      9. Job Interview Question-Answer

                      q and a

                        Feeling confident with your text-answered interview questions but concerned about doing the face-to-face interview? This app prepares you for interacting with your interviewer by simulating an employer asking you questions.

                        You can record your response and see what you look like to the interviewer to understand what movements, vocal pauses, etc. you need to work on.

                        Download this app for iOS and Android.

                        10. HireVue

                        hirevue

                          HireVue is a great job hunting app for those times when your interviewer wants to get some preliminary questions out of the way.

                          When an interested employer wants to interview you, they send you a request via HireVue and you can answer it in your free time, when you’re ready. Your interview might consist of a some FaceTime, some multiple choice questions or open-ended text answers and can be completed and sent to the interviewer when you’re finish.

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                          Download it for Android and iOS.

                          Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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